Advance copy provided by Reedsy Discovery.
Around the Cul-de-sac by Christina De Paris follows Sydney Lagunilla and her neighborhood exploits, from wheedling her way into a neighbor’s pool and dealing with school drama to collecting lizards and rowing her red boat around the lake.
The short story collection uses the innocent and funny viewpoint of a hyperactive girl to tell sweet, amusing, and very insightful modern tales.
Stunning characterisation brings out the intricacies of Sydney’s personality from one story to the next, each situation offering a bit more detail about her and 1990s Florida. Secondary and fleeting characters are delivered just as well, making their roles in the collection as engrossing as Sydney’s. One even steals the spotlight.
Engaging and Meaningful Narrative
The narration is active and humorous—in step with the protagonist’s rhythm and personality. There’s a nice balance between children’s comedy and more serious undercurrents, these touching on different social and psychological issues. That said, family and moral life lessons are prevalent themes throughout the book.
The plots of the short stories are simple and entertaining. I can’t say I felt super excited while reading them, but they did draw me in to chuckle, think, and reminisce about ‘90s pop culture.
Takes You Back to the 90s
This last feature is a major plus, taking you back to beloved music, movies, hobbies, and technologies. It really delivers the excitement of games, bike rides, and naughty deeds around the neighborhood, encountering your first home computer with dial-up broadband, or acting out music videos and scenes from Titanic.
The beauty of Around the Cul-de-sac is in how well it illustrates everyday situations, whether light-hearted or serious, while also framing these events and messages with subtle, tasteful humor. The colourful protagonist leading the action with flair and laughs is the cherry on the cake.
Overall, this book is a pleasant and intriguing read that adults can enjoy as much as young readers.